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What I learned at CRE Converge

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By Allen Arender, Partner & EVP – Development (Nashville, TN)

I stepped outside the office for two days of powerful networking with 1,500+ commercial real estate (CRE) leaders and thought-provoking insights from industry experts and renowned keynote speakers at NAIOP’s CRE.Converge Conference. NAIOP provides advocacy, education and business opportunities by connecting members in a powerful North American network in the commercial real estate development and investment industry. Here are a few of my takeaways from the event:

  • Technology in real estate is evolving and changing our industry quickly. Five years ago, this conference’s exhibitor hall was dominated by general contractors. It occurred to me that more than 75% of the exhibitors at this conference were real estate tech. There are some amazing things being done with sensors and wireless technology. It is a very fragmented market at the moment, but this will most certainly change the way we build/operate/use our buildings.
  • Technology in logistics is making big leaps. There was a case study presented of a 2,000 acre inland port that handles container traffic. Less than 5 years ago, the port was run 24/7 with 3 shifts of ±65 workers, loading containers and driving them around the port. They began implementing automated methods to load and transport the containers around the site, and are now operating 24/7 with 3 shift of 7 workers. The skill set of these 7 is very different from the previous 65. These 7 workers are more automation/robotic/control engineers. This is being done by necessity. The average age of a truck driver is 57!
  • Adam Grant — organizational behavior expert from Wharton College of Business. Givers/Takers/Matchers. Click here for his presentation at a TED Conference. Listen. His ideas are greatly influencing organizations at the moment.
  • Economy looks good. Most believe 2019 is all clear and economic growth will continue to be strong. There is a 50/50 notion that we slow down some in 2020, but no one sees a threat of a deep/prolonged recession. Corporate and personal balance sheets have improved and appear to be more resilient than 2008/2009 cycle. Interest rates are going up, but most believe growth is strong enough to absorb a full 1% increase with very little impact.

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